The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Buffalo Evening News (Buffalo, NY), Monday, October 16, 1893, page 1

Full Text
One Man Only Escaped From The DEAN RICHMOND.
The Captain's Wife And Three Children Were On Board The Vessel.
The Survivor's Tale.

Dunkirk, Oct. 16 - 2 P. M. - Only one man escaped from the lost steamer DEAN RICHMOND, and he was found wandering on the beach near Van Buren Point in a half demented condition by an Observer reporter. He was haggard and worn and his eyes sunken in his head told a story of terrible suffering. He was found aimlessly wandering up and down the beach, and when spoken to burst into tears and said he was looking for his dog.

He was questioned and said he had been washed off the RICHMOND, and was unquestionably the only man saved from the vessel. After he had been cared for and given stimulants he recovered sufficiently to tell the story of the awful last hours of the steamer.

He said his name was C.L. Clarke, and he shipped in Toledo just before the RICHMOND sailed. He was coming to Buffalo and was working his way, it is believed.

"There were 19 in the RICHMOND's crew," he said, "beside Capt. Stoddart, his wife and three children. We left Toledo at 6 o'clock Friday night, and sailed along all right until we got into the gale on Saturday. It struck us hard from the very start, but if we had had good luck we would have weathered the storm and been safe in port at this minute.

"We tried to get into Erie harbor but could not on account of the choppy sea, and then Capt. Stoddart decided to make the run to Buffalo, if he could. We were badly wrenched by the heavy sea which struck us, it seemed, from every side.

"About 2 P. M., after matters had grown worse right along, we sighted a couple of steamers. They were quite a distance away, but we signalled them for assistance. Capt. Stoddart had not given up at that time, but felt it would be safer if we were nearer some other vessel. He was thinking of his wife and children. The steamer we signalled either did not see us or could not get to us, for they went right along fighting their way into the storm, heading toward Buffalo.

"The waves ran right over our decks and everything which was moveable was swept overboard. The captain's wife and children were locked up in the cabin for safety's sake, and the crew was working for their lives outside, under direction of the captain, who never lost his head for a moment.

"An hour later we had lost a mast and smokestack. Then we continued to drift along at the mercy of the wind and waves.

"About 7 o'clock in the evening the wheel house was washed away. The rudder and wheel were broken and we were badly crippled. We were then about 15 miles from shore and after considerable work managed to set the rudder so we could make for the shore.

"The captain had made up his mind to run for the shore and beach his vessel. He made fair headway with a hard fight and I began to get things ready to get out in the yawl boat with the captain's wife and children. I had a little dog on board which I thought a great deal of.

"I tied him in the boat and opened my jack knife, stuck it up in the gunwhale of the yawl, good and deep. I went back to the captain and just before I reached him, we were washed and I was carried overboard.

"This must have been about 11 o'clock. I gave myself up for lost when I found myself in the water. I kept sight of the RICHMOND's lights for some time and saw her drifting down the lake, turning and twisting in every direction. I knew I was as good as dead and wondered whether the others would be saved or not.

"And then I lost consciousness and did not know anything until I found myself lying on the beach near a town, which I found out was Silver Creek. When I came to myself I went into the town. I had some money and got something to eat, found out where I was and then came here to learn what had become of the steamer.

"I heard this morning that she had gone down, and then I came over here and tried to find the boat and my dog. He must be suffering terribly, for he was tied in."

Clarke insisted on continuing his search for his pet and a mile or two up the shore an overturned yawl boat from the RICHMOND was found. Clark saw it, junped forward and threw it over.

Inside, tied to the seat, was the dead body of a little dog, and in the gunwhale, sunk deeply, was Clarke's jack-knife.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Column 2
Date of Original:
Monday, October 16, 1893
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Buffalo Evening News (Buffalo, NY), Monday, October 16, 1893, page 1